The Bar Method is a unique, exhilarating workout, with a potentially misleading name – there was absolutely no alcohol or even an olive anywhere in the joint. I came to quickly find out they mean a ballet bar that is used to balance, stretch and hold on as you are lead through a series of exercises that work your core, back, arms and legs.
Created in 1991 and borrowing techniques from the Lotte Berk method, the Bar Method is a cross between physical therapy, dance, isometrics and mat Pilate’s that strengthens, tightens and elongates your body as you hold each position for many, many counts. The base of the workout is active stretching as you hold positions to exhaustion, building muscle and flexibility at the same time, allowing you to be able to essentially do the class every day. Since you are actively stretching during the entire workout, and form is crucial to the workout, your muscles are able to repair faster and more effectively.
At the chic, urban atmosphere of the South Lake Union location, I was greeted by one of the co-owners, Maika Manring (the other owners are Luke and Beverly Currier), a woman whose enthusiasm and graciousness makes you want to be best friends, but whose body is so fantastic that you want to shoot yourself. What’s unique about the classes, besides the workout itself, is the fact that they’ve created a very open and friendly community which makes you want to come back over and over again. The instructors know your name and use it during the class to be sure that you are in correct form or just to offer words of encouragement. Almost every class is about 15-28 people, which is a testament of how fun and beneficial the class is.
“Besides the benefits to all people, it is also one of the best ways to get in shape for the ski season,” says Manring, “We get a lot of cyclists, professional athletes that want to cross train, and horseback riders, actually, as it strengthens the core and is an excellent way to build and elongate the legs and back.”
While the class I was in seemed to be filled with people that have been coming forever and had the moves down pat, the goal of the Bar Method is to allow everyone to find their own comfort zone, but challenge them enough to push them out of it, making it easy to create a healthy self-competition and improve every day.
I noticed the age range was anywhere from a 20-year-old to a pregnant woman to one striking 74-year-old. “I’ve totally changed my body,” says Lynn Hawley, long-time participant in the Bar Method, and a beautiful, svelte 74-year-old woman from Mercer Island. “I’ve always worked out, but nothing has changed my body like the Bar Method. I’ve lost 15 pounds and many inches, got rid of the pooch in my stomach and the hamstring and back issues I’ve always struggled with are a non-issue now.”
In addition to this great workout and this warm community they’ve created, the Bar Method also extends into the community in which they reside (for both locations – one in South Lake Union and one in Redmond) through philanthropic fitness challenges. This month it was helping one of the woman who is a regular in the classes, Colleen Terpening, who lost her husband, Michael Terpening, due to complications with a cerebral aneurysm by donating to the Swedish Medical Center Foundation. For this cause, the Bar Method is promoting a Fitness Challenge, donating $10 for every person that attends four classes a week or more.
The Bar Method Seattle – South Lake Union
124 Westlake Ave North
Seattle, WA 98109
The Bar Method – Eastside
Redmond Town Center
7551 166th Avenue NE, #D240
Redmond, WA 98052
COST: Very reasonably priced for a class workout. For prices, go to the registration page or call 206-467-5249 for the Seattle location or 425-556-5163 for the Redmond location.
CLASS SCHEDULE: To find out when classes are, go to the Bar Method schedule page.